ARCHIVED - Ottawa, September 4, 2009

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Graham Fraser honours Canadians for 40 years of work on the advancement of linguistic duality

Ottawa, September 4, 2009—On the eve of a week full of activities marking the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, acknowledged all those who, over the past 40 years, have worked for the recognition of both official languages and the development of official language communities.

“This anniversary belongs to those who  dedicate themselves to teaching English or French, who work to bring the various language groups together, who endlessly work to contribute to the vitality of official language communities across the country, who have worked in governments to change the attitudes and practices of the public service and who have defended the language rights of their fellow Canadians in public or before the courts, when necessary,” said Mr. Fraser. 

“All of these people have helped make Canada a more just, diverse and welcoming country. To all of you, thank you,” added the Commissioner, who also recognized the contribution of the millions of Canadians who choose to learn and speak the other official language in the spirit of discovery or for sheer enjoyment. “The Official Languages Act is not just a law for federal public services. It is more like the flag: a powerful symbol of Canadian identity that can bring together people of all origins, from all parts of the country, regardless of their mother tongue,” the Commissioner explained.

On September 7, 1969, the Official Languages Act officially came into force. Since then, the Government of Canada has made significant commitments to Canadian citizens, specifically regarding the equal status of English and French, bilingual services and participation in the public service.

A Week of Events

A series of events will highlight the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act from September 9 to 12, in Ottawa. Graham Fraser plans to use this week of meetings, discussions and reflections to encourage the Canadian population to focus on the progress accomplished over the past four decades.

“The Official Languages Act continues to evolve over time,” the Commissioner pointed out. “This 40th anniversary is an opportunity to envision other changes. Despite considerable progress, some issues remain very problematic and require new approaches. I hope that the discussions that will take place during the week will allow us to continue our reflection in this regard.”

Over the course of the week, Mr. Fraser and his predecessors will participate in a symposium organized in collaboration with the Association for Canadian Studies, and he will unveil an exhibition of political cartoons depicting 40 years of language debates. Furthermore, the publication of Language Rights 2007–2009 by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages will be launched at a round table hosted by the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. The Commissioner will also address the member organizations of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, as well as the Quebec Community Groups Network, during their respective annual general meetings.

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For more information, please consult the section on the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act.

For more information, please contact:

Robin Cantin
Manager, Media Relations
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cell: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368